Fighting Redlining and Climate Change with Transformative Climate Communities

The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened awareness of structural inequities in the U.S., and it has become undeniable that the climate crisis does particularly severe harm in under-resourced communities, including communities of color and low-income communities.

In order to build a future where all communities can build wealth, live in healthy places filled with economic opportunity, and are ready to meet the challenges posed by climate change, the U.S.’s efforts to combat the climate crisis must confront this reality.

California has pioneered a unique approach to fostering community-led solutions that meet the needs of those hit first and worst by climate change through a program called Transformative Climate Communities. TCC, managed by the Strategic Growth Council, is unique in two ways:

  • TCC puts community leadership first, requiring all projects to develop a collaborative governance structure between stakeholders such as local government, community-based organizations and residents. The process works to ensure that projects are derived from resident-identified needs, giving community members ownership over changes taking place in their own neighborhoods.
  • TCC then funds communities to develop and implement holistic, connected visions for how to transform their neighborhoods to reduce CO2 emissions and provide meaningful community benefits such as cleaner air, improved health and job opportunities. For example, this might include building affordable housing near transit, planting an urban street canopy and installing solar on homes, all at once.

TCC was created by AB 2722 (Burke, 2016), cosponsored by The Greenlining Institute and the California Environmental Justice Alliance. Since then, it has provided Planning Grants to 18 communities to develop their projects, and eight Implementation Grants enabling on-the-ground work to begin.

Five years after the program’s establishment, The Greenlining Institute is examining TCC’s progress thus far, and is beginning to gauge both successes and areas for improvement. Greenlining conducted an intensive qualitative evaluation of how TCC’s components work together to deliver equity outcomes. This evaluation includes four detailed Case Studies from Ontario, East Oakland, the Northeast San Fernando Valley and Stockton, which examines specific local planning and implementation efforts in greater detail.

Overall, climate equity experts found substantial success in creating new models for community-centered governance leading to climate action plans that can deliver meaningful benefits to underserved communities while reducing carbon emissions. Below is an overview of Greenlining's policy recommendations:

Key Findings

1. The TCC model is working. 

With 18 planning grants and eight implementation grants issued so far, the TCC model is working -- helping communities design and implement real change based on needs they themselves identify, fighting climate change and improving their neighborhoods. “Residents know their voice is not only being heard but we’re doing something about it,” said Jasmine Silva of Community Partners, administrator of the Northeast San Fernando Valley project.

2. TCC Communities are drastically reducing CO2 emissions. 

Even though implementation has only recently started in many places, TCC is already producing concrete results, from a new bikeshare program that’s expanding clean transportation and creating jobs in East Oakland to a formerly neglected alley now reclaimed as a community green space in Pacoima, part of the East San Fernando Valley TCC effort. Projects in the works include affordable housing near transit, EV charging, solar panels for low-income households and more. Overall, these communities are on track to reducing nearly 200,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions over the next five years, equivalent to removing nearly 43,000 cars from the road. 

3. TCC should be replicated nationally. 

TCC represents a new model for climate action that should be expanded within California and replicated nationally. Contrary to the false narrative that climate action means a loss of jobs, TCC shows how communities can use efforts to cut CO2 emissions to create jobs and build healthier, stronger neighborhoods.

4. Despite these great successes, challenges remain. 

Inconsistent and inadequate funding has greatly limited the number of projects that could be funded and made it difficult for communities to plan. Also, California should reduce administrative and financial burdens that make it difficult for under-resourced cities and counties to participate. Advocates were heartened by a funding increase approved in the recently-concluded California state budget process, but future funding is not guaranteed. The state must adequately and consistently fund the pathway from planning to implementation, and support the local ecosystems needed to support community transformation.  

Report Recommendations

1. Funding must be adequate and consistent.

TCC can only fund catalytic, transformative, community led-change if it is adequately funded. Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2021-2022 budget recently proposed $420 million over three years for TCC, and this represents a good start. To sustain community transformation, the governor and legislature should explore ways to establish a consistent funding source for the program.

2. Remove needless funding barriers.

The State of California should allow advance payment so that community organizations don’t face insurmountable cash flow challenges. Restrictions that hamper community outreach, such as inability to use State funds to pay for child care or food for participants, should be removed immediately.

3. Help communities build capacity.

To meet capacity challenges and support TCC communities from planning to implementation, the Strategic Growth Council should provide increased guidance, resources, technical assistance and peer learning, fully stepping into the role of a State partner facilitating, supporting and incubating community-led transformation. SGC should clarify and streamline overall guidance, provide publicly accessible models and best practices, offer tailored technical assistance and solutions thinking, and facilitate peer-to-peer learning. 

4. Expand TCC nationally.

As the federal government and state governments expand their climate change efforts, they should use TCC as a model for programs to be implemented all over the U.S. To simultaneously fight climate change and build community health and prosperity, funders and policymakers must invest in community capacity and community-led transformations at all levels. The U.S. must fund a pathway from planning to implementation, as well as support the local ecosystems needed to support community transformation.

Conclusion

Transformative Climate Communities is a community capacity-building model for fighting climate change, building economic prosperity and redressing the historic systemic disinvestment of low-income neighborhoods. The TCC model empowers the communities most impacted by poverty and pollution to choose their own goals, strategies and projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deliver multiple tangible benefits.

This approach represents a model for national climate change efforts that should be replicated at both the federal and state levels. For our full analysis of the Transformative Climate Communities program, click below to download the complete report.

Community-Controlled Solutions Built On Decades of Organizing

Northeast SAN FERNANDO VALLEY: A Transformative Climate Communities Case Study

For nearly 25 years, Pacoima Beautiful has been fighting to mitigate environmental injustices in Pacoima and Sun Valley, neighborhoods that sit in the Northeast San Fernando Valley in the City of Los Angeles. These suburban communities were constructed after World War II to house factory workers, and are typified by single-family homes, wide, auto-oriented roads and industrial facilities. Now home to a predominantly Latinx community, the Northeast Valley is surrounded by three freeways, a heavy rail line, a local airport and other industrially-zoned land. The community experiences some of the highest levels of air pollution in the state, lack of green spaces, and overcrowded housing conditions. Moreover, Pacoima and Sun Valley suffer from some of the most severe heat in Los Angeles County, with temperatures regularly reaching into the triple digits during the summer months. 

Pacoima Beautiful’s resident community Inspectors. Credit_ Pacoima Beautiful

Pacoima Beauitful’s resident Community Inspectors. Credit: Pacoima Beautiful

GRID Alternative staff and Trainees install rooftop solar on low-income units in San Fernando Valley, CA Credit_ GRID Alternatives

GRID Alternatives staff and trainees install rooftop solar. Credit: GRID Alternatives

California has pioneered a unique approach to fostering community-led solutions that meet the needs of those hit first and worst by climate change through a program called Transformative Climate Communities. Transformative Climate Communities offers a model for fighting climate change, building economic prosperity and redressing the historic oppression of our most under-resourced communities. The TCC program empowers the communities most impacted by poverty and pollution to choose their own goals, strategies and projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deliver multiple tangible benefits.

Building off of shared community priorities developed over decades of organizing, Pacoima Beautiful identified a vision for their Transformative Climate Communities program, centered around pedestrian safety, street improvements, greening and climate resilience.

In our evaluation, Green Together is the most tangible example of what community-controlled transformation and investments actually look like.

Pacoima Beautiful convened partners who understood the importance of community organizing for the Green Together TCC project.

Five years after the program’s establishment, The Greenlining Institute is examining TCC’s progress thus far, and is beginning to gauge both successes and areas for improvement. Greenlining conducted an intensive qualitative evaluation of how TCC’s components work together to deliver equity outcomes. This evaluation included four detailed Case Studies from Ontario, East Oakland, the Northeast San Fernando Valley and Stockton examining specific local planning and implementation efforts in detail.

For our full analysis of the Transformative Climate Communities program, see Fighting Redlining and Climate Change with Transformative Climate Communities.

A Community Vision for a Healthy Neighborhood Without Displacement

East Oakland: A Transformative Climate Communities Case Study

Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, East Oakland is located in the flatlands of the city. Originally developed to house automobile and defense workers in the early 1900’s, these neighborhoods experienced an influx of Black residents after World War II and became predominantly Black in the 1950’s. Now a predominantly Latinx neighborhood, the area has experienced rising housing prices and a significant loss of low-income Black households between 2000 and 2015.

East Oakland neighborhoods are within the top 5-20% of environmentally burdened neighborhoods in California. Neighborhoods are situated side-by-side with heavily polluting industrial facilities, drayage from the Port of Oakland and transportation infrastructure, such as the Oakland International Airport and the I-880, one of the region’s most heavily trafficked truck corridors.

Children in Oakland at Community Event Photo Credit_ Higher Ground Neighborhood Development Corporation

Community bike rides with the Original Scraper Bike Team. Credit: Higher Ground Neighborhood Development Corporation

Construction of Affordable Housing Unit - Photo Credit_ City of Oakland

Construction of a 54-unit 100% affordable housing development, including a community health clinic, solar panels and community garden. Credit: City of Oakland

California has pioneered a unique approach to fostering community-led solutions that meet the needs of those hit first and worst by climate change through a program called Transformative Climate Communities. The TCC Planning Grant funds five projects in East Oakland that will weave climate strategies together with affordable housing, community health, active transportation, workforce development, food system resilience and green space projects. The TCC program is called Better Neighborhoods, Same Neighbors.

East Oakland’s Better Neighborhoods, Same Neighbors TCC project builds upon deep neighborhood organizing to implement a community plan focused on redressing historic economic exclusion and ensuring that current residents can enjoy the benefits of TCC without being displaced.

Five years after the program’s establishment, The Greenlining Institute is examining TCC’s progress thus far, and is beginning to gauge both successes and areas for improvement. Greenlining conducted an intensive qualitative evaluation of how TCC’s components work together to deliver equity outcomes. This evaluation included four detailed Case Studies from Ontario, East Oakland, the Northeast San Fernando Valley and Stockton examining specific local planning and implementation efforts in detail.

For our full analysis of the Transformative Climate Communities program, see Fighting Redlining and Climate Change with Transformative Climate Communities.

Building on 10 Years of City and Community Collaboration

Ontario: A Transformative Climate Communities Case Study

Located in the Inland Empire of Southern California, the city of Ontario is a majority Latinx community. Downtown Ontario is situated amidst busy transportation corridors and a growing warehouse industry, which threatens to widen pollution burdens and social inequities. The majority of households are renters and face housing insecurity due to rising rents. Over 45% of households speak Spanish only, and face barriers related to language accessibility and mixed immigration status.

Since 2007, a coalition of residents, community-based organizations and the City of Ontario have been working together under the Healthy Ontario Initiative (HOI) to improve health outcomes and quality-of-life. HOI came together to address community health and build safe and vibrant neighborhoods, against a backdrop of high levels of poverty and chronic disease burdens. 

Ontario Together’s community engagement team at Community Event. Credit_ City of Ontario photo

Ontario Together’s community engagement team.
Credit: City of Ontario 

Construction of Vista Verde Apartments, a 101-unit affordable housing project funded through TCC. Credit_ City of Ontario

Construction of Vista Verde Apartments, a 101-unit affordable housing project funded through TCC.
Credit: City of Ontario

California has pioneered a unique approach to fostering community-led solutions that meet the needs of those hit first and worst by climate change through a program called Transformative Climate Communities. Transformative Climate Communities offers a model for fighting climate change, building economic prosperity and redressing the historic oppression of our most under-resourced communities. The TCC program empowers the communities most impacted by poverty and pollution to choose their own goals, strategies and projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deliver multiple tangible benefits.

The TCC collaboration launched under the umbrella name of Ontario Together builds upon over a decade of collaborative work, relationships and trust developed under HOI.

Ontario Together seeks to address three primary resident-identified priorities: the need to breathe healthy air and be free from chronic disease, to feel safe and comfortable walking and biking, and to live in an affordable home. The collaborative’s vision and projects thus focus on improving overall community health and wellness, creating safe and active transportation options, and constructing affordable housing.

Ontario Together offers a strong example of a local government-led collaborative that is built upon existing partnerships and collaboration with community stakeholders. 

Five years after the program’s establishment, The Greenlining Institute is examining TCC’s progress thus far, and is beginning to gauge both successes and areas for improvement. Greenlining conducted an intensive qualitative evaluation of how TCC’s components work together to deliver equity outcomes. This evaluation included four detailed Case Studies from Ontario, East Oakland, the Northeast San Fernando Valley and Stockton examining specific local planning and implementation efforts in detail.

For our full analysis of the Transformative Climate Communities program, see Fighting Redlining and Climate Change with Transformative Climate Communities.

Seeding an Environmental Justice Coalition to Undo a Legacy of Disinvestment

Stockton: A Transformative Climate Communities Case Study

Situated along the San Joaquin River, Stockton is a port city in California’s Central Valley. The South Stockton neighborhood is composed of predominantly Latinx, Black and Asian residents. This historically redlined community has long experienced environmental burdens from multiple freeways, heavy industry and the Port of Stockton.

Today, 93% of residents in this region within the top 10% of the most environmentally burdened census tracts in California, according to CalEnviroScreen 3.0, and the remaining 7% are within the top 25%. Furthermore, historic systemic disinvestment combined with the City of Stockton’s 2012 bankruptcy has left this community with poor physical infrastructure and a high concentration of poverty and unemployment.

Rise Stockton leaders during a community workshop. Credit_ Rise Stockton

Rise Stockton leaders during a community workshop. Credit: Rise Stockton

Rise Stockton coalition members participate in a community meeting. Credit_ Rise Stockton

Rise Stockton coalition members participate in a community meeting. Credit: Rise Stockton

California has pioneered a unique approach to fostering community-led solutions that meet the needs of those hit first and worst by climate change through a program called Transformative Climate Communities. Transformative Climate Communities offers a model for fighting climate change, building economic prosperity and redressing the historic oppression of our most under-resourced communities. The TCC program empowers the communities most impacted by poverty and pollution to choose their own goals, strategies and projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deliver multiple tangible benefits.

Against this backdrop of disinvestment, organizations in South Stockton advocated and prepared. In 2017 South Stockton applied for a TCC Planning Grant, inviting the Mayor’s Office of the City of Stockton to partner with them as the Lead Applicant. Together, they formed Stockton Rising, a collaborative proposal between the City of Stockton, community partners and residents to secure and implement the TCC Planning and Implementation Grants.

Stockton Rising’s TCC project is not only making foundational quality-of-life neighborhood improvements but also seeding the formation of a new environmental justice coalition, demonstrating how investments can help transform a community when they are rooted in equity and community leadership.


TCC’s holistic, community-driven approach allowed Stockton Rising to develop a neighborhood plan that centered resident perspectives more authentically than traditional, government-led community engagement processes typically do. 

Five years after the program’s establishment, The Greenlining Institute is examining TCC’s progress thus far, and is beginning to gauge both successes and areas for improvement. Greenlining conducted an intensive qualitative evaluation of how TCC’s components work together to deliver equity outcomes. This evaluation included four detailed Case Studies from Ontario, East Oakland, the Northeast San Fernando Valley and Stockton examining specific local planning and implementation efforts in detail.

For our full analysis of the Transformative Climate Communities program, see Fighting Redlining and Climate Change with Transformative Climate Communities.

A Fair Financial System: Regulating Fintech and Nonbank Lenders

The market share of home purchase mortgage originations has steadily and substantially shifted from banking institutions to nonbank lenders over recent years. In 2019, The Greenlining Institute found that five of the 10 largest home lenders in California are nonbanks, and based on 2020 HMDA data, Rocket Mortgage and United Wholesale Mortgage are the biggest mortgage lenders in both the nation and California. And yet, these lenders are not subject to the community reinvestment or transparency regulations that govern traditional banks. Nonbank lenders are exempt from the requirements of the Community Reinvestment Act, a federal law passed in 1977 to reverse redlining and meet the credit needs of low-to-moderate income communities. CRA is critical for obligating banks to meet the needs of LMI borrowers and, although race-blind, is an important tool for addressing the widening racial wealth gap and increasing access to first-time homeownership.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Nonbank mortgage lending has grown exponentially in the last decade, to the point that most traditional banks have partnered with nonbanks to provide services and products. Nonbanks’ utilization of fintech technological innovation, including algorithmic data to determine qualified borrowers, could increase economic opportunities for communities that have historically been without financial services. However, lack of data transparency—combined with the fact that these firms are subject to fewer regulations than their bank peers, with no obligations for community reinvestment—raise concerns that the rise of nonbank lenders could exacerbate inequities in low-income communities and communities of color.

Through conversations with community organizations and consumer advocates, as well as a comprehensive literature review, The Greenlining Institute developed recommendations for nonbank lenders and regulatory agencies at the state and federal levels that will embed greater equity into our financial system. These policy changes will require nonbank lenders to meet and surpass the standards held by their traditional bank peers, resulting in greater access to safe mortgages, expanded first time homeownership programs, access to entrepreneurship, affordable housing development and community-driven investments into low-and moderate income communities.

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AN EQUITABLE FINANCIAL SYSTEM:

NONBANK LENDERS CAN MAKE THESE CHANGES TO BECOME BETTER COMMUNITY-SERVING INSTITUTIONS:
  • Maintain a race-based lens by ensuring that safe products and services are accessible to the most underserved communities, and hiring diverse staff and leadership.
  • Build community partnerships: Nonbank lenders should develop and strengthen relationships with community organizations in order to effectively understand the capital needs of their borrowers, create products that effectively serve the community and fund essential, local nonprofits led by people of color.
  • Prioritize culturally competent products, especially when it comes to services and marketing. Loan underwriting, including fintech algorithms, should consider a customer’s ability to repay, rather than relying on mostly the client’s credit history.
STATE AND FEDERAL LAWMAKERS CAN IMPLEMENT THESE URGENT POLICIES TO DRIVE GREATER COMMUNITY INVESTMENTS:
  • The Biden Administration should work with Congress, the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act and for Congress to expand the scope of the CRA to include nonbank lenders.
  • California regulators should update existing California lending law to include consumer safeguards and transparency requirements to ensure equitable lending practices.
  • California should build on the regulatory minimum set at the federal level and develop a state CRA similar to Illinois and Massachusetts. This would include modernization of the CRA parallel to what we propose at the federal level to include a variety of lenders and services and to expand the CRA to have a race-conscious element through a fair lending review.

Through data transparency to ensure equitable lending, increased oversight for a quickly expanding industry, and an expansion of the Community Reinvestment Act in California and federally, we can build a stronger financial system that includes nonbank mortgage lending.

Low and Zero Emission Zones: Opportunities and Challenges in Designing Equitable Clean Transportation Policies

Executive Summary

Low and zero-emissions zones (LEZs and ZEZs)—designated areas of a city in which vehicles must meet certain emissions requirements to enter—are a policy tool available to cities to im- prove air quality, reduce congestion, raise revenue, and achieve climate goals. If thoughtfully developed and implemented, these zones can also address racial and economic equity in communi- ties disproportionately burdened by vehicle pollution.

This document summarizes the key findings of a primer developed by the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Green- lining Institute. The primer is not meant to be prescriptive; rather, it should help policymakers and stakeholders understand and evaluate the utility of LEZs and ZEZs for their communities, and provide considerations toward equitable policymaking should they choose to pursue such zones.

Making Equity Real in ZEZs

The primer investigates whether ZEZs can be designed equita- bly and, if so, how such zones can be implemented in California while considering the diverse needs of each community as well as regulatory constraints.

Equity concerns about existing ZEZs include a general lack of information and education for laypeople about these zones; the ability to pay fees, fines, and penalties for using a gasoline or diesel vehicle within the zone; ensuring a focus on the greatest sources of pollution inequity—often medium- and heavy-duty vehicle emissions; potential economic and pollution displace- ment burdens on low-income communities and communities of color; and the fair use of revenue generated from ZEZs.

The Greenlining Institute gathered qualitative information from various stakeholders working on air pollution mitigation efforts in communities located in East Los Angeles, Fresno, the Inland Empire, San Diego, and Stockton. The following six points consistently emerged from the stakeholder interviews, and are critical to consider in the development of any ZEZ:

  • Risk of burden on local residents
  • Enforcement and accountability concerns
  • Trust between local government and community members
  • Distribution of benefits and complementary policies to achieve increasing equity benchmarks
  • Targeting emissions sources that are appropriate for a given community
  • Funding oversight

How LEZz and ZEZs Can Benefit Communities

One of the major potential benefits of a ZEZ is a reduction in harmful tailpipe pollution. Exposure to air pollution generated from on-road vehicles harms people and is linked to many ail- ments, including asthma, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

ZEZs have the potential to eliminate tailpipe emissions in a targeted area. By replacing combustion engines with electric motors, the vast majority of vehicle emissions can be eliminated. If these zones are placed to benefit disadvantaged communities that currently have high exposure to air pollution, the zones have the potential to start to reduce existing inequities in pol- lution burden between racial and economic groups. While a community-wide ZEZ may not be possible today, even a partial removal of tailpipe pollution via a ZEZ for larger trucks would have benefits; see the table on the next page for a summary of the ways in which emissions zones can make a difference in communities.

Policy Recommendations

Where needed, states should make regulatory changes to allow LEZs to be designed by cities such that specific needs of the communities are addressed, and encourage these zones to be developed with public oversight and stakeholder engagement. They should also provide cities with technical assistance, fund- ing, and measurement, evaluation, and learning resources needed to make the most of pilot projects, especially in under-resourced communities.

If local entities are interested in designing an LEZ pilot, they can help maximize a zone’s benefits and mitigate potential harms by communicating early and often with their stakehold- ers, including vulnerable communities and affected businesses; conducting comprehensive feasibility and risk assessments and communicating the results; and seeking and incorporating pub- lic feedback at all stages of design, implementation, manage- ment, and operation.

There are additional factors to consider when considering these zones in communities of color. Enforcement mechanisms must not perpetuate systems of oppression; for example, it is not recommended that police enforce the zone, and fines must not further harm the most economically disadvantaged individuals. Community stakeholders also must be at the table to decide what enforcement mechanisms—such as automatic license plate readers—may be appropriate.

Sustaining Clean Mobility Equity Programs

Executive Summary

Establishing long-term financial sustainability for clean mobility equity programs represents one of the largest challenges that these programs face. In Clean Mobility Equity: A Playbook, The Greenlining Institute conducted an equity evaluation of a selection of California’s clean mobility equity programs, which include electric vehicle carsharing, shared mobility hubs, community-driven mobility pilots and more. Some are still in the pilot project phase and others operate more as full-fledged programs. In this evaluation, a common theme that emerged was that uncertain financial sustainability and stability limits the ability of these programs and pilots to grow and serve more low-income, disadvantaged communities, and communities of color. While the Low Carbon Transportation Program and other state funding sources provided seed funding for many of the clean mobility equity pilot projects that we evaluated, we need strategies to maintain these services after the initial grant runs out.

Therefore, we used Greenlining’s Six Standards for Equitable Investment and the Making Equity Real Framework, to explore several ways that these programs may be able to generate and sustain the funding needed to continue the operation of clean mobility equity programs.

Six Standards for Equitable Investment

Our Greenlined Economy Guidebook introduces six standards for equitable investment that are intended to address the failures of equity in our current models of investment. Without clear standards, we end up reinforcing the structures that caused problems in the first place.

  1. Emphasize Anti-Racist Solutions

  2. Prioritize Multi-Sector Approaches

  3. Deliver Intentional Benefits

  4. Build Community Capacity

  5. Be Community-Driven At Every Stage

  6. Establish Paths Toward Wealth-Building

Making Equity Real Framework

Greenlining’s Making Equity Real Framework can be overlaid with Six Standards for Equitable Investment to ensure that they are applied in a comprehensive manner every step of the way.

1. Vision and Values

  • How will equity be described as a core component in the context of the overall mission/goal?

2. Process

  • How will equity be embedded into the process of how the effort will be developed?
  • How will equity be embedded into its implementation?
  • How will decisions be made or influenced by communities that have less political power or voice?

3. Outcomes

  • How will implementation lead to equity outcomes?
  • What explicit equity outcomes will be described?

2. Measurement and Analysis

  • How will equity progress be measured?
  • How will we know that equity goals and community benefits will be achieved?

This report outlines a variety of concepts that still need much more exploration, development and experimentation. As that unfolds, Greenlining’s Six Standards for Equitable Investment and the Making Equity Real Framework should be applied across the development and implementation of the Four Components of Sustaining Clean Mobility Equity Programs that are laid out below.

Four Components of Sustaining Clean Mobility Equity Programs

The analysis outlined above helped identify four central components of a funding sustainability strategy that we will describe in more detail below:

1. Secure Reliable, Equitable Funding

2. Cultivate Community Partnerships

3. Improve Cash Flow

4. Augment Revenue Sources

Together, these four components aim to support the long-term sustainability both of the overarching clean mobility equity programs and of the specific mobility services and projects that they fund. However, bolstering each of these components will require policy and structural fixes from the top down and from the bottom up. To foster long-term sustainability of both programs and communities, we first need to prioritize the development of community vision, priorities and partnerships.

While many of these examples are California-focused, the recommendations included can also apply to other states and the federal government as they develop their own clean mobility equity programs.

Solving the Medical Debt Crisis

Executive Summary

Medical debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy in the United States, with 62% of bankruptcies caused by medical bills. In 2016, one in six Americans had past due medical bills, resulting in $81 billion in debt. In a 2015 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 26% of Americans aged 18 to 64—52 million— said that they struggled to pay medical bills. Medical expenses were the largest factor increasing the number of people in poverty last year.

Medical debt is not distributed equally across communities:

  • Nationally, about a third of Black adults have past-due medical debt, compared to just under a quarter of White adults.
  • In California, 31% of people of color have some type of past-due debt in collections, compared to only 19% of White residents.
  • Twelve percent of people from communities of color in California owe medical debt.

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to worsen health disparities and the burden of medical debt on communities of color. Health care costs due to COVID-19 have already left people in severe debt, and layoffs due to COVID leave historical numbers of people unemployed and uninsured. Communities of color have been especially devastated by the pandemic, leaving them especially vulnerable.

Recommendations

  • Expand comprehensive financial assistance policies for all large, for-profit health care facilities, including ambulatory surgical centers and outpatient clinics.
  • End the practice of turning over medical debt to third-party collection agencies and prohibit such agencies from reporting medical debt to credit reporting bureaus.
  • Mandate public reporting of debt collection practices by healthcare providers.
  • Center medical debt elimination as a part of the state’s COVID-19 recovery package via measures such as the proposed COVID-19 Medical Debt
  • Collection Relief Act, which would suspend the collection of medical debt retroactively from February 1, 2020 until the “end of the public health emergency” and ban wage garnishment and bank account seizure.
  • Cancel medical debt outright. The government can purchase medical debt from debt collectors and health care providers at discounted rates, aiding consumers while avoiding a financial windfall for debt collectors.
  • Incorporate debt cancellation into California’s larger strategy toward reparations for racial injustice. Closing the racial wealth gap by addressing debt (including medical debt) in California requires a reparations package for the Black community.

Clean Mobility Equity: A Playbook
Lessons from California’s Clean Transportation Programs

Executive Summary

California is a world leader in climate change policy and programs—and a key cornerstone of the state’s strategy has been decarbonizing the transportation sector. California’s investments in clean transportation programs have ballooned in a relatively short time, and include financial incentives for electric vehicle purchases, electric vehicle carsharing mobility hubs and community-driven clean mobility pilots. These programs range widely to meet various needs across urban, suburban and rural communities. Over time these programs have intentionally centered equity, prioritizing the needs of low-income communities of color. Clean mobility programs can not only help fight climate change and clean the air, they can improve mobility for residents of underserved communities, reduce traffic and dependence on cars, and be engines of economic empowerment that help reduce the racial wealth gap.

We need to better understand whether and how clean transportation programs truly address equity in a comprehensive and effective way and make use of knowledge gained in recent years. This report reviews California’s clean mobility equity programs, noting successes, pitfalls and areas for improvement.

This report serves as both a guide for California as we continue evolving our clean mobility programs to more meaningfully center equity and as a guide for other states and the federal government as they move to develop and implement clean transportation equity programs.

Best Practices that Make Equity Real in Clean Mobility Programs

Over the past three decades, The Greenlining Institute has helped to redirect billions of dollars into the communities we represent, but these programs have always operated within the confines of an extractive and exclusionary economic system. To greenline community investment, we have developed a set of rules to govern funds and programs intended to address poverty and inequity. Without standards, we end up reinforcing the structures that caused these problems in the first place. These standards are meant to address failures of equity in our current community investment model.

In this report we identified 10 ways that California clean mobility programs uphold our equity standards and present them here as best practices that should be replicated and scaled in all clean mobility programs.

  1. Emphasize Anti-Racist Solutions

  2. Prioritize Multi-Sector Approaches

  3. Deliver Intentional Benefits

  4. Build Community Capacity

  5. Be Community-Driven At Every Stage

  6. Establish Paths Toward Wealth-Building

Recommendations

1. Immediately increase funding in California and nationally scale programs that comprehensively approach mobility equity and are led by communities, such as the Sustainable Transportation Equity Project.

  • California has developed community-driven clean mobility equity programs in which residents decide which transportation modes work best for them. Yet compared to other programs, these are insufficiently funded and cannot meet demand. State and federal funds must support mobility programs that holistically reduce greenhouse gases, air pollution and vehicle miles traveled while prioritizing the needs of low-income communities and communities of color. We must prioritize, replicate and scale community-driven clean mobility equity programs.

2. Institute structural reforms to interagency coordination and funding to maximize available resources for clean mobility investments and to target them to the people with the most barriers.

  • California has multiple state agencies pushing forward their own clean mobility programs and investments—all with varying approaches to equity. For example, California’s Air Resources Board and Energy Commission both offer electric vehicle incentives and electric school bus replacement programs. This has led to duplication and inefficiencies. We need a coordinated federal and state strategy that ties together all of these efforts and maximizes available resources and efficiencies.
  • Our limited available electric vehicle incentives should solely be targeted to the people who face the most barriers to access. The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project has been allocated hundreds of millions of dollars over the years, yet it disproportionately benefits middle and higher-income White people. Our limited federal and state funds should instead be designated for more equitable programs like Clean Cars 4 All and the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program that are designed to reduce transportation disparities, not widen them.

3. Phase out programs that continue to entrench our dependency on single-occupancy vehicles.

  • California has disproportionately funneled dollars into the programs that subsidize electric vehicle purchases—yet this is not sufficient to solve the climate crisis. Governments at all levels should still continue to facilitate a transition to vehicle electrification focusing on the people who face the most barriers to access, but in the long run must foster policies that reduce congestion, vehicle trips and unsustainable land use patterns. While some regions are indeed inherently more car dependent, in these areas state and federal funds should fund programs that reduce the need for costly car ownership, such as Our Community CarShare, Green Raiteros, Ecosystem of Shared Mobility, the Agricultural Workers Vanpool Project, the Rural School Bus Pilot and more.